Evolution, Water Balance, Potential Hazards, and Control of a Pro-Glacial Lake in the French ALPS

M. Vallon
1989 Annals of Glaciology  
Lake Arsine, a pro-glacial lake in the French Alps, first appeared 30 years ago and has since been growing steadily. In 1985, it reached an area of 5.9 ha, a maximum depth of 39 m, and a volume of 0.8 × 106 m3. This lake is dammed partially by a glacial moraine and partially by a tongue of dead ice covered by a moraine 1–2 m thick. The glacier calves into the lake, which collects all the melt water from the surrounding glacial area of 250 ha. No open outlet exists and seepage reaches a value of
more » ... reaches a value of 5 × 106 m3 year−1. A 1 year water balance shows that seepage increases rapidly with water level, from less than 0.03 m3 s−1to more than 0.75 m3 s−l for a rise in water level of 10 m. The seasonal lake-volume fluctuations of 0.5 × 106 m3 are small compared with the inflow volume of 5 × 106 m3. Progressive clogging of the bottom by glacial flour has led to a gradual rise of 8 m in 16 years in the summer level, while at the same time the height of the dam has decreased by 10 m due to the melting of dead ice. Consequently, by the end of July 1985 the freeboard was only 2 m and overflow on to the dead ice was thought likely to occur in the very near future. To eliminate this flood hazard, a 250 m long channel was dug in an ice-free zone which had been profiled by geophysical prospecting. This work was carried out between 14 April and 13 June 1986, in order to benefit from the low winter water level. Geotechnical studies of the moraine have shown that no large landslide is to be feared. A crude model of the waves created by calving shows that the new water level is safe and the channel is capable of handling the maximum likely discharge of 15 m3 s−1 resulting from the highest possible wave of 3.5 m.
doi:10.3189/s0260305500008041 fatcat:oonlcocqozfe3lfv6aigipaviy